Ford Gilpin Riley Architects
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Horseguarde, Exeter

Client: Barratt Homes
Area: 1,500 m²
Stage: Completed in July 2004
Building costs: circa £10m
Description: Conservation and New Build 150 units

Horseguards is built on the site of the former “Higher Barracks” in the centre of Exeter, one of the last surviving Napoleonic Barracks in the country. The scheme comprised a total of 150 dwellings, which were part new-build and part conversion / refurbishment of the Listed, former military buildings. From the outset, the Council’s Conservation Department insisted that the site was of sufficient historic importance, that the use of “standard” house designs would not be accepted and that a firm of Architects with special expertise should be appointed. As a result, this project represented a rare opportunity for us to work for a “volume” national housebuilder.

The scheme we devised respected the spacious landscaped settings of the Listed Buildings and introduced new-build elements in semi-formal groupings that picked-up on the geometry of the historic layout. The effect was to produce a layout which contained an interesting series of urban routes and spaces, forming a new piece of “townscape”, as opposed to the usual suburban anonymity of most schemes associated with large housebuilders.

Our client’s initial hesitancy about our approach was diluted when it became clear that it would result in an increased density of development on the site. The northern part of the site adjoined the “Duryard Valley Park”, a gorge-like area of protected rural landscape, which provided a “green lung” to this part of the city. When we produced a design for a crescent-shaped terrace containing about a dozen 3 storey 4 bedroom town houses for a forgotten, left-over bit of land, that we had realised, would overlook the deep valley, our client became convinced.

Horseguards is now a very popular place to live. Its parkland-like setting, placed right in the heart of the city centre, makes it a unique and highly sustainable location.

© Ford Gilpin Riley Ltd, Ford House, Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon, England EX5 3HU
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